by Michael Drake
“Shut the fuck up,” Tommy thought.
by Newt Ronan
These are the forgotten children.
Lying abandoned where they fell.
No pulse, no sound, no light.
They took nothing but breath
And left no more than idle wind
Stirring summer grass at midnight.
No past, no future, leaving no memories
Of life or living or dying. Call them forgotten.
Buried in abandoned graves
Or burned to ash, scattered,
Blowing through vacant fields and darkened streets.
Newt Ronan is a US Army Infantry Vietnam War veteran who led platoon size operations in the DMZ and in the area west of Chu Lai during 1968 and 1969 was honorably discharged in 1970 as a captain, Infantry. His awards include the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a case of malaria and an Agent Orange injury. Retired after a long business career, he spends his time on fitness and family and, in his writing efforts, failing to do justice to the fallen.
by Brittany Schick
Standing at parade rest in the dark Afghan night, watching the spotlight illuminate the colors at half mast slowly waving with the breeze… It wasn’t the hundreds of camouflage-clad souls standing around me to pay their respects to their fallen comrade that choked me up, or the roll-call of his name followed by eerie silence, or the bugler’s perfect tribute through taps. No, it was when they read that he was born in 1989… 1989. I have a baby brother who was born in 1989. 1989 wasn’t really that long ago… It wasn’t nearly enough life for this young man to have lived. It was 23 short years, 5 of which he had spent in the service of his nation. What if he had been MY little brother? MY smiling blue-eyed baby brother with the curly brown hair and the pudgy little hands; the one who had started out as a little guy talking with a lisp and smiling with a cute under bite, who was now a man, standing much taller than me, and smiling with the confidence of youth. What if HE were gone forever, killed on foreign soil in the dark of the night fighting insurgents? I saw the feeds — I watched this other man, someone else’s brother, get gunned down…and now I was standing at attention with hundreds of others, others who didn’t really know the full story. But did it matter how it happened? Did it matter how he had died that night, thousands of miles away from all those who would have wanted to be at his side? No, not really. What matters to his wife, mother, father, and brothers — biological and those in-arms — is that he is gone.
Brittany Schick deployed to Bagram AB in 2012 as a Captain in the USAF. She is currently stationed in Haiti as a Foreign Service Officer with her husband and daughter.
by Nicolya’ Jones
As I lay here, holding you, running my fingers over your soft head, I find myself wondering if I really know what it takes to love you. Do I know you well enough to be able to say I truly love you? You’ve permeated my thoughts, invaded my senses & got my head spinning. You got me so high, I don’t want to come down. It’s no wonder I rush home. With a single glance, my heart skips a beat, my tongue slides from between my lips, & I think my panties react to the sound of your voice. You have this way of undressing me with your eyes & making me shake without touching me. I lay in awe of you sometimes how you command this body that I can’t seem to control sometimes. With a well placed kiss, a gentle touch of your hand & I forget that I’m supposed to be mad at you, that I had a hard day at work, & hell, sometimes my own name. Read more
by Amanda Clerc
Fury came to visit
and she welcomed it in
Serpents enveloped her aura
Fire stares from her eyes
Metal quenches her thirst
Course skin crawls,
In spite of her hospitality
Flush wet nape
In the small of her back
Restlessness to unleash fury
Heart pounds with excruciating thumps
Amanda Clerc is a Minnesota Army National Guardswoman and an Iraq war veteran. She deployed for 22 months with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division. Amanda lives in the Minneapolis area with her son and a cuddly lab retriever.
by Jason McDowell
When you think about the 4th of July, you’d expect it to have some significance for military service members. This holiday celebrates the founding of our country and the freedoms that we still fight for today. I was recently asked by a friend if veterans viewed this holiday any differently, and my immediate reaction was something like this: Yes! America! Freedom! Pass me a hot dog! QUIT HOGGING THE SPARKLERS!
by Ashley Bohn
On May 21, 2009 I woke up, put on my uniform, grabbed my weapon and made my short trek to the hospital. It was the same routine I had kept every day for 6 months as a surgical tech in the United States Army. I was attached to a combat support hospital called Ibn Sina, an Iraqi-built, American-run hospital in Baghdad, Iraq. I spent most of the morning taking inventory in the 3rd floor operating room and launching myself down our long hallway on a rolling stool. Around 11 a.m we, the operating room, got a call from the emergency room downstairs. When the OR nurse answered the phone, the look on her face told me all I needed to know: it was time to get ready.
by Brandy Williams
I rake leaves, place
in pile, and toss match. A
hard day’s work drips
from my brow. Flames duel,
dancing a waltz before ravaging
blood heart of a half-eaten
carcass. Acorns pop, whistle
like fighter planes dropping
from heaven. Pale, yellow earth
turns red. Smoke soaks
up landscape; white clouds drift
on breath currents.
White smoke is natural; black
We stood in shade,
methodically cleaning residue
from guns. I stepped out back
and lit up.
Black smoke—thick, black smoke billowed in air:
“Hey, what’s that?” I asked, pointing at the smoke.
“I’m not sure; white smoke is natural; black
is manmade,” he said.
We went back to the shade.
The radio chirped panicked voices—
“Ranger Five—Blackjack—landline, Now!”
The Humvee’s squealing tires,
the sergeant yelling—
“Get your gear! Plane down! Plane down!”
broke me from my trance.
We race across the desert,
as barren as my womb, heading
towards smoke—thick, black smoke.
Sand hammers my mouth, my lungs. We
follow smoke, catch air; up, down,
white knuckled, grind to a halt.
Pebbles drift over canyon’s edge—falls
like stone snow; imagine falling
like a stone, spiraling
to an unconscious end
on the crushed basalt below.
We tightrope the canyon’s edge
with our gear. It is there, the smoke—
thick, black smoke. And
just beyond the range—
Hydrazine attacks my body
like a swarm of bees, and I
breathe shards of glass.
“What’s that smell?” I ask,
sniffing the air. Horrid, rancid—
like three day old meat, baking
under a desert sun. The world swirled
like a spindle top flipped
on its axis.
He is there, in the flames, floundering
like a fish finning for air.
Sinewy flesh drips
Heat of a thousand suns scars
my face, melts off his. Flames dance
in his eyes.
for him, withdraw my charred
hand. He’s waving,
waving goodbye. No, it’s
just my nephew running
through vapor fields.
Brandy Williams is an Air Force veteran who served as a jet engine mechanic and an independent duty medical technician from 1997-2010. After she separated from the military, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in from Louisiana State University at Alexandria. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Southern Studies at Ole Miss.